- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The share of voters who want Congress to fully or partially scrap Obamacare has dipped noticeably since January, according to a poll released Wednesday that finds zeal for repeal is waning even as President Trump and congressional Republicans craft plans to gut and replace the law with market-oriented reforms.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll says slightly more than half — 51 percent — of voters think the Affordable Care Act should be repealed completely or in part, a drop of 8 percentage points from a similar poll ahead of Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

Congressional Republicans pledged to make repealing Obamacare their first priority this year, but disagreements over how to replace the 2010 law have led to jeers from conservatives, who expected to kill the law immediately, and liberals who say they don’t have an adequate plan.

GOP lawmakers have been heckled and shouted down by liberal activists and constituents at town hall meetings across America this month, as they struggle to outline a clear and smooth path to a better system.

The new poll says support for full or partial repeal of Obamacare has even dropped among Republicans — 78 percent back the idea, compared to 83 percent in early January.

Overall approval of the law has risen by 5 points since the previous poll — 46 percent now “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the law compared to 45 percent who disapprove.

Groups aligned with GOP leadership announced multimillion-dollar ad campaigns Wednesday to push back against Obamacare supports who feel they’ve gained an upper hand.

The American Action Network said it is spending $2.2 million on ads featuring a California mom who lost her doctor and preferred health plan under Obamacare. It builds on a previously announced, $5.2-million ad buy to promote the GOP’s repeal and replace strategy.

Meanwhile, One Nation said it will air anti-Obamacare ads in nine states over the next 10 days.

“Last fall, Americans sent Washington a clear message: Clean up the Obamacare mess,” One Nation President and CEO Steven Law said. “We’re going to make sure Washington follows through.”

Democrats say Congress should fix, not repeal, Obamacare with more generous subsidies or a government-run “public option” plan to compete with private plans on the exchanges.

But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says the GOP has to “rescue” Americans from markets beset by rising premiums and dwindling choices under Obamacare.

One major insurer, Humana, announced this month it will pull out of the program at the end of this year, while the CEO of Aetna, another big player, said the Affordable Care Act “is in a death spiral.”

House Republicans last week released an outline of plans, which would replace Obamacare’s exchanges and income-based subsidies with tax credits based on age, so people who do not get insurance through a job or government insurance program have a shot at affording private coverage of their choosing.

It would also scale down generous federal funding for states that opted to expand their Medicaid populations, while allowing people to pour more money in tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be used for medical expenses.

Dozens of mayors urged the GOP to rethink its plans Wednesday as part of a nationwide “day of action” alongside local residents, businesses and hospital administrators.

“The effects of repealing the ACA will be felt most heavily at the local level,” the mayors wrote in a letter to congressional leaders. “It is our cities and counties that will see increases in indigent care costs for our hospitals, in uninsured rates and uncompensated care costs; and it is our low and moderate income residents who will return to a time of having to choose between health care and everyday living expenses, like groceries.”

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